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Wander Minnesota: The Eelpout Festival

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Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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Winter, schwinter. Fie upon thee, polar vortex. Think we can’t take it? We can, we do, and we still celebrate the outdoors.

Or at least, that seems to be the prevailing attitude for the upcoming Eelpout Festival in Walker, Feb. 20-23. The Eelpout Festival marks its 35th year this year, and in one crazy weekend, the city of Walker sees its population explode from 1,500 to more than 12,000.

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

The “Mardi Gras on Ice” is a, shall we say, highly-spirited weekend, with the Coors Keg Castle, lots of live music, dancing and plenty of food, including an eelpout fish fry.

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

But that’s not all. There’s mechanical bull riding:

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

and bonfires out on Leech lake:

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

Of course there’s a polar plunge.

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

And some serious winter stylin’:

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

Still not convinced? There’s also pout curling, eelpout beer pong, eelpout rugby, and the chance to tour the lake encampments.

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

And gosh, you never know who you might run into up there.

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

All in celebration of what the festival’s organizers call one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling catches out there — the eelpout.

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

(credit: Chase on the Lake)

No wonder this ugly fish is so beloved.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Tuesday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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